7 Windows Maintenance Mistakes You Should Never Make

Ben Stegner 24-07-2017

Every Windows user knows that you need to perform regular maintenance to keep your computer running smoothly. But what needs to be done has changed with recent versions Windows 10 Maintenance: What Has Changed & What You Need to Consider In Windows 10, Microsoft seriously overhauled maintenance features. Especially Windows Update is causing some headache. We provide you with an overview of new settings and show you which third party tools you still need. Read More , especially with Windows 10.


What should you do, and what are the big pitfalls to avoid? We’ll show you the biggest maintenance mistakes to avoid so you can streamline the process and get back to work.

1. Cleaning the Registry

One of the biggest Windows cleaning myths has pervaded through the decades and still deludes people today. Many PC cleaning pieces of software, late-night TV commercials, and other shady sources claim that you need to clean the Windows Registry. Hundreds of errors, they claim, are slowing down your PC’s performance. If you’d only pay $19.99 for their cleaning software, it would obliterate these errors and give you a brand-new machine.

You do not need to clean the Registry. It is true that, over time, unnecessary Registry entries will stick around due to uninstalling software and other actions. But these aren’t a detriment to your PC’s performance Using Registry Cleaner: Does Is It Really Make a Difference? Advertisements for registry cleaners are all over the Web. There’s an entire industry out there bent on convincing inexperienced computer users that their registry needs fixing, and that, for ten easy payments of $29.95, their... Read More . You’ll never notice a difference even if you remove thousands of “problems.”

Even worse is that Registry cleaners can often cause more damage than good 5 Ways Overzealous Cleaning Can Break Windows It's easy to go overboard with cleaning your PC. When you're cleaning your PC, be sure you know what you're getting into -- it's easy to break something. Read More . Overzealous cleaners could delete important system files, which results in tedious fixes. If your PC speed isn’t what it should be, check out our guide to speeding up Windows for real How to Speed Up Windows 10 From Boot to Shut Down Registry tweaks and ominous cleaners rarely fix a slow computer. We have compiled a list of tried-and-true methods that will give your Windows 10 computer an instant performance boost. Read More .

Don’t fall for Registry cleaning, and certainly don’t pay for the snake oil software.


2. Not Taking Advantage of Automatic Cleaning

In the old days of Windows, you had to remember to run a lot of maintenance on your own, or resort to using the Task Scheduler 4 Boring Tasks You Can Automate With the Windows Task Scheduler Your time is too valuable to be wasted with repetitive tasks. Let us show you how to automate and schedule tasks. We have a few great examples, too. Read More . In Windows 10, many tools run on their own schedules so you don’t have to always check them. Specifically, you should make sure that Windows is automatically cleaning old files and defragmenting your drive (if you don’t use an SSD).

To run the Cleanup Tool on a schedule, open Settings and visit the System section. Select the Storage tab on the left and look for the Storage Sense header. Turn this slider On so that Windows automatically cleans up old files. You can click Change how we free up space to specify whether you’d like to clean temporary files and old Recycle Bin content. There’s also a Clean Now button you can use to get some instant extra space.

windows 10 storage sense options

Disk defragmentation helps a hard disk drive (HDD) run at its best, but you shouldn’t perform it on solid-state drives 3 Ways to Protect Your SSD and Extend Its Lifespan There are a few mistakes that could be shortening the lifespan of your SSD. Avoid these to extend your SSD's lifespan as long as possible. Read More (SSD). Windows knows which kind of drive is in your system and schedules automatic defragmentation accordingly, but it’s still worth checking.


Type defrag into the Start Menu to open the Defragment and Optimize Drives entry. Here you can see each drive in your PC and its status. Windows will “optimize” SSDs and automatically defragment HDDs. Make sure the Scheduled optimization header is On and you’re all set.

windows 10 defrag optimize drives

3. Neglecting Windows Updates

While it’s not cleaning, Windows Update falls under the maintenance category as well. In Windows 10, you can turn off updates temporarily 7 Ways to Temporarily Turn Off Windows Update in Windows 10 Windows Update keeps your system patched and safe. In Windows 10 you're at the mercy of Microsoft's schedule unless you know hidden settings and tweaks. So, keep Windows Update under control. Read More but they still run on their own otherwise.

If you’re still using Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you have more control over Windows Updates and can even completely disable them. But we don’t recommend that you do this. Without updates, your computer is more vulnerable.


Feel free to manage Windows Update How to Manage Windows Update in Windows 10 For control freaks, Windows Update is a nightmare. It works in the background, and keeps your system safe and running smoothly. We show you how it works and what you can customize. Read More to make it work better for you, but please don’t disable or ignore updates. They keep your PC safe with the latest patches. Indeed, if PC owners had been more diligent with updates, the devastating ransomware attack in May The Global Ransomware Attack and How to Protect Your Data A massive cyberattack has struck computers around the globe. Have you been affected by the highly virulent self-replicating ransomware? If not, how can you protect your data without paying the ransom? Read More wouldn’t have been as bad.

4. Failing to Back Up

If you use a computer, there’s simply no excuse 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know We never tire to remind you to make backups and keep your data safe. If you're wondering what, how often, and where you should back up your files, we have straight forward answers. Read More for failing to make backups of your data.

Some people spout the old “I don’t have anything important” argument for why they don’t back up, but is that really true? Even if you don’t have important documents, sentimental pictures, or other irreplaceable files on your machine, what about the time spent to recover from data loss? Just setting up Windows the way you had it could take hours, and your time is valuable.


Thankfully, backing up your data isn’t much of a chore. And once you set up a solution, it becomes pretty set-and-forget. You can use the built-in backup tools in Windows The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide We've summarized every backup, restore, recovery, and repair option we could find on Windows 10. Use our simple tips and never despair over lost data again! Read More or try a third-party solution The Best Backup Software for Windows Your data is fragile – it only takes one small accident to lose everything. The more backups you make, the better. Here we present the best free backup software for Windows. Read More . Both let you back up locally (to an external hard drive, for example) or over the internet so your data is safe from physical damage. Any amount you spend on a backup service will instantly pay for itself the moment you try to turn on your PC and find that it won’t boot.

The alternative is going through a lengthy process to recover data from your PC that won’t boot How to Back Up Data From a Computer That Won't Boot When your computer won't boot, your data might still there. Here's how to install Linux on a bootable USB flash drive to recover your files. Next time keep a backup though. Read More . And that only works if your hard drive is still functioning.

5. Running RAM Optimizers

Similar to Registry cleaners, many pieces of software claim to “optimize” your computer’s memory (RAM) so that programs don’t use up more than they should. Unsurprisingly, you should avoid these as well. We looked at CleanMem CleanMem - A Windows Memory Cleaner That Works? CleanMem claims to reduce your computer's RAM usage. Even if it succeeds, you don't need it. Here's why, and what to do instead. Read More , a popular choice for this task, and found several issues with the developer’s methods.

He even stated that the software doesn’t speed up your computer and is a placebo.

Modern versions of Windows do a fine job of managing RAM on their own. You still might want to avoid RAM-hungry programs like Chrome Why Is Google Chrome Using So Much RAM? Here's How to Fix It Why does Google Chrome use so much RAM? What can you do to keep it in check? Here's how to make Chrome use less RAM. Read More if your computer doesn’t have a lot installed, but running an optimizer isn’t the solution. For actually fixing problems, check out the best free tools to fix Windows 10 issues The Best Free Windows 10 Repair Tools to Fix Any Problem If you're running into system problems or rogue settings, you should use these free Windows 10 repair tools to fix your PC. Read More .

6. Letting Everything Run at Startup

One of the biggest causes of a slow computer, especially at startup 6 Ways to Fix Slow Boot Times in Windows 10 If your Windows 10 boot time is slow, you aren't alone. We've compiled the most common solutions to help you fix slow startup on Windows 10. Read More , is having too many programs running.

Most apps and programs “conveniently” set themselves to run every time you turn on your PC. This is great for essentials like your antivirus and clipboard manager, but you really don’t need Adobe Reader, Spotify, and Skype jumping up as soon as you boot. If you’re not using them, having them open is just wasting resources.

windows 10 startup items

Thankfully, it’s easy to remove programs from running at startup. We’ve shown you everything you need to take charge of startup programs Remove Windows Startup Items to Fix Your Slow Computer for Free Programs launching at boot can affect both the Windows startup speed and your computer's overall performance. Fix your slow computer by removing applications from auto-start. We show you how to catch them all. Read More , and even recommended ten items you should remove to get started 10 Startup Programs You Can Safely Disable to Speed Up Windows Computer booting slowly? You probably have too many programs running at startup. Here's how to disable startup programs on Windows. Read More . Allowing everything to run at startup without pruning the list is a simple mistake that can lead to hampered performance.

7. Forgoing Physical Maintenance

Much of Windows-specific maintenance is software-based. But your computer can also run into physical problems that could impact your performance down the road. Be sure you’re not making big hardware maintenance mistakes 8 PC Maintenance Mistakes That Kill Your Hardware Lifespan PC maintenance isn't rocket science, but you could be making a handful of mistakes that are actually harming your hardware. Read More , like restricting ventilation or allowing dust to build up.

Regular hardware maintenance will ensure your software continues to perform well.

Maintenance for the Wise

Committing these seven mistakes could cost your PC some of its lifespan or ruin your daily performance. Thankfully, they’re all easy to avoid. Avoiding slimy software, letting Windows run its automatic cleaning, and taking care of your PC’s hardware will go a long way. And when you do run into a problem, the best free maintenance tools Top 5 Free Computer Maintenance Tools You Should Know About Treat your computer right and it will stay fast and responsive for many years. But neglect proper maintenance and your system will suffer. So where do you begin? With the five apps we recommend here. Read More will help you take care of it.

Did you just realize that you have more Windows cleaning to do than you thought? Check out a step-by-step guide to cleaning Windows 10 The Best Way to Clean Windows 10: A Step-by-Step Guide Don't know how to clean Windows 10? Here's a clear step-by-step guide to getting your PC nice and tidy again. Read More .

What Windows maintenance mistakes have you observed? Have you done anything silly when trying to upkeep your PC? Tell us in the comments!

Image Credit: Stokkete via

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Data Backup, Defragmentation, Registry Cleaner, Windows Update.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Flip
    August 12, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    I don't have "Change How We Free Up Space" in my settings

  2. Mike
    August 11, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    You forgot security checks i.e. AV scans, for viruses, worms, rootkits, keyloggers etc. etc.

  3. BAW30s
    August 3, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    I know the expert view is that Registry Cleaners are snake oil and to be avoided, but although I am aware of instances of instances where they have caused problems, in my experience they can be helpful. I was recently trying to solve problems with an XP computer (I know...) which was booting slowly and presenting critical errors in the Event Viewer relating to a corrupt profile ("Windows cannot find the local profile and is logging you on with a temporary profile" and "Windows cannot load the locally stored profile. Possible causes of this error include insufficient security rights or a corrupt local profile").
    The suggestions I found mostly related to deleting the profile and starting a new one, a course of action I was reluctant to take because of the number of programs that had been installed and settings configured in that profile over time.
    I then came across a small program called NT Registry Optimizer. It's free and dates back to 2005, so I don't work for the company! After running it, the ntuser.dat file containing registry hives was reduced in size from 96 to 65MB, the errors stopped, and the computer became notably more responsive. I now think that defragmenting the registry can bring improvements.

  4. coly
    August 2, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    There is only one mistake regarding Windows, using it in the first place..LOL..

    • Jonathan
      August 12, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      Absolutely ?

  5. Tommi P. Laiho
    July 26, 2017 at 1:57 am

    I would shift to Linux it won't have this kind of issues at all. Linux is rock solid, very stable and needs no virus scanner. And it is totally open and free.

    • Bert
      July 26, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      Linux rules! I've been running Linux since2008- 2009 ... Now I have Debian Stretch... No comparison with any Windows OS!

    • Doc
      August 1, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Bull**** - hackers have been targeting Linux web servers in the past few years; just look at the HeartBleed, ImageTragick, etc. As Linux gains in popularity, hackers are looking into more and more flaws they can exploit.


      • Andrei
        August 2, 2017 at 8:14 am

        of course but if you run linux as a user do you need to install httpd or other server? do you think that IIS from microsoft isn't prone to hacking?

    • Col. Panek
      August 1, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      You still have to backup and blow out the dust, but Linux sure does make things easier.

  6. Graeme
    July 25, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    How ironic that an article talking about 'shady' software redirected me to a scam site claiming I'd won an iPhone.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 4, 2017 at 6:06 pm

      Chances are that this was a rogue ad. Apologies!
      How did you get redirected? Did you click on a link?
      If it was a link, is it still in the article?

      • Graeme
        August 9, 2017 at 9:56 pm


        Yes I think you're probably right. It redirected me automatically a few seconds after loading the article. And then it happened again just now. Good luck hunting down the rogue ads!

  7. Davin Peterson
    July 24, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Many applications that you install like to insert them into the start up folder so that they load with Windows. You do not need many of these programs to load with Windows, so clean the startup folder out and also check the program's settings to see if there is an option to turn off load at startup.

    • Squalle
      July 30, 2017 at 7:05 am

      It's funny though. Microsoft still makes OneDrive open on it's own, even with it unchecked in MSConfig AND in the program's settings. I right clicked, clicked Close and it closed. 3 seconds later, it opened right back up. SMH

  8. Angelia Carr
    July 24, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    I'm in a nightmare now for some of these things! I have Windows 7 on a used Fell and not only did I run a registry cleaner but I also ran a duplicate file cleaner WITHOUT paying attention to what it wanted to delete... Now Windows zUpdate won't install along wit several other small issues and of course I have no recovery media. And somewhere in all of that mess ALLof my restore points were deleted.... Wish me luck!!

    • coly
      August 2, 2017 at 9:40 pm

      Install Linux on it and forget about windows, use an external hard drive for all your important stuff, and if you ever make a mess of Linux, tweaking it, just do another clean install. I have Linux Mint installed on two old laptops ( which were more or less unusable with windows ), Don't let anyone persuade you to buy a new laptop, if you have an old usable one, you have nothing to loose trying Linux.

      • Flip
        August 12, 2017 at 5:23 pm

        That's what I did when I messed up my old windows 7 laptop. It loves Zorin

  9. VFerg
    July 24, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    I have never heard of RAM optimizers before. That one made me laugh. Its sad to know that there are people out there that use this stuff though...

  10. Scott
    July 24, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Storage Sense is not an option on my version of Windows 10 (build 1607).

    • Davin Peterson
      July 24, 2017 at 5:13 pm

      That's because it was added in the Creators Update released in March 2017.